SMITH, RALPH MACK
Rank / Branch:
CPL E-3 U.S. Army
Date of Birth:
HOSTILE, EXPLOSIVE D
Awards & Decorations:
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list by County
RALPH MACK SMITH, CORPORAL, U. S. ARMY, COLORADO CITY, MITCHELL COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star with "V" device and Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal
Ralph Mack Smith was born in Colorado City, Texas to D.M. and Francis Walker Smith. Ralph's father was a WW II Veteran and served with the First Cavalary Division in Pacific Theatre. A sister, Donna was born two years later. In 1952 when Ralph was four years old, his mother died of Bright's disease when she was 23 years old. Mr. Smith was left with two children. With the assistance of his deceased wife's family, Ralph and Ethelene Walker, he was able to get assistance in the care of the children while he farmed. Mr. Smith was a third generation decendent of a pioneer family in Mitchell County and they had farmed for generations in the northwest area of Mitchell County. His grandfather, Mr. Handley had settled in Mitchell County in the 1890's and had served in the Civil War prior to that.
Mr. Smith married Alma Lee Smith, a teacher from Loraine, Texas in 1954. Mrs. Smith took over the roll of being mother to Ralph and Donna and a caretaker to the Walker family as well. Mrs. Smith taught school in Loraine, Westbrook and Colorado City, all in Mitchell County. Ralph and Donna attended those schools when Mrs. Smith was teaching there. In 1959, a sister, Georgeann joined the family.
Angelo State University-1968-69
Ralph worked his father's land during the summers and holidays. He wanted to farm like his father and grandfather. Ralph loved to ride horses and be outdoors. He also loved hunting and fishing.
Ralph graduated from Colorado City High School in 1966, then attended Odessa College in Odessa his freshman year in college, then went a year at Howard County College in Big Spring. He, then transferred to Angelo State University in San Angelo for a semester, but decided he was tired of going to school and wanted to wait for the draft while he helped his father. The draft wasn't long in coming. He was drafted into the Army in February 1969 and he was inducted in Abilene and did his basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas and his AIT in infantry. He began his tour in Vietnam on September 11, 1969 and was assigned as an infantryman with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade under the operational control of the 23rd (Americal) Division. During his short time in Vietnam, he was described to be an outstanding soldier. He and three other soldiers were killed by an explosive device on October 27, 1969. His parents described it to be a booby trapped artillery shell. He received a posthumous promotion to Corporal, the Bronze Star for Valor and an Oak Leaf Cluster for Meritorous Service and the Purple Heart.
Ralph in Vietnam 1969
He was buried with full military honors in the Handley Cemetery , 9 miles northwest of Colorado City. The Handley Cemetery was founded by his great grandfather and contains many generations of the family and is listed as a "Texas Historical Site." When Ralph was buried, he was the fifth generation of the family to be buried there. Ralph rests next to his mother and near this grandparents and near many other family members.
Handley Cemetery, Mitchell County, Texas
Ralph was survived by this parents and by his two sisters. His father passed away, November 4, 2010 and now rests next to Ralph in the Handley Cemetery. His step mother continues to live in Colorado City. His younger sister, Donna Miller lives in Carlsbad, New Mexico and is married to Tim, and his youngest sister, Georgeann Whiteside lives near the family homestead in Mitchell County.